By GERRY deSIMAS, JR.
Connecticut Sports Online
FARMINGTON, August 25, 2002 -- Wallingford's Kelli Montgomery has plenty of reasons to have a warm place in her heart for the Greater Hartford Triathlon. In her first appearance in the event, she finished third among the women and 25th overall in the field.
A year later, she competed again in the GHT, took home another third place medal and got married to her husband, Mike Gyulay, later that same day. In 1999, she finished third again.
She added to those special memories again Sunday with a third place finish among the women in the 2002 Greater Hartford Triathlon at Farmington's Winding Trails Recreation Complex. Yale graduate student Catherline Sterling won the women's race while Elizabeth Hall of Redding finished second. But Montgomery was simply happy to be competing.
A back injury that one doctor said could force to curtail her running and end her triathlon career has slowed her down much of this year. She has slowly been working her way back into shape. "I haven't run 6 miles yet until today," Montgomery said. "I was hurting on the second loop (of the run). But I said at least I'm out here (in the race) hurting."
Two race novices swept the top spots in the men's race. Andre Lapar, a former swimmer on the Mary and Washington swim team, won his second career race, outlasting Greg Saultner of New Paltz, N.Y., by 44 seconds with a new course record time of 2:15.49.
The Olympic distance triathlon race consisted of a one-mile swim in Winding Trail's Dunning Lake, a 27.5 mile bike ride through Avon and Farmington and a 6.2-mile run through the woods at Winding Trails. The bike course was new after road construction in Canton and Avon forced organizers to revamp the cycling leg.
Lapar, whose first career win came in 2000 on Long Island in the Tobay Triathlon, was fifth out of the water and third after the bike. But he was only about 10 seconds behind the leader Scott Kaslusky of West Hartford and steps behind Rick Kennedy of Bolton, Mass., beginning the run. Nearly midway through the run, Lapar caught Kaslusky and pulled away.
"I had no idea who was chasing me but I knew they were chasing me hard," said Lapar, 22. "I could hide in the woods on course like this."
But he enjoyed the clean lake swim, the rolling bike course where he hit speeds of nearly 50 mph and the run through the woods.
The new bike course had plenty of short, steep hills, some steep downhills and some hard turns. "Bike handling usually isn't an issue in triathlons but you had to come out of your tucks to make turns," said Sautner, 24. "It was great."
It was just another innovation for the 18th annual Greater Hartford Triathlon that was also the USA Triathlon New England Regional championship race for the 12th straight year.
"When you're qualifying for the national (amateur) championships, you don't want a flat course," race director Bill Phillips said. "You want something challenging." The top five finishers in each division qualify for next Saturday's USA Triathlon national championship race in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
The top local athlete in the field was Farmington's Mike Morrow, 41, who finished 13th overall with a time of 2:23.40. Morrow was the second swimmer out of the water in the race, was 36th after cycling but closed the gap on the run. Unionville's John Willis, 38, was 23rd overall with a time of 2:28.37 and second in his age group (35-39).
The women's race was close throughout. Montgomery led coming out of the water with Sterling close behind, which wasn't surprising since the two train sometimes at Yale. Montgomery led coming off the bike as well but faded in the run since she has been running for about a month.
Sterling passed Montgomery on the run and turned in a record winning time of 2:33.18, good enough for 39th in the field of 258 finishers. Hall, who finished among the top six for the third year in a row, passed Montgomery near the end of the run to take second in 2:35.55. Montgomery was third in 2:36.33.
"It was a lot of fun," Hall said. "The hills (on the bike) were steep but the downhills were fun to go down."
Among the women, the top athletes included Farmington's Marissa Ryan, 17, who was seventh among the women in 2:45.17 and won her age group (15-19).
"It was a beautiful course," said Sautner. "I never did a triathlon in the woods. The bike course was up and down with a lot of short, steep bursts and some speedy downhills coming into turns."
Top 10 men: 1. Andre Lapar, Glen Cove, N.Y., 2:15.49 (new course record), 2. Greg Sautner, New Paltz, N.Y., 2:16.35; 3. Rick Kennedy, Bolton, Mass., 2:17.20; 4. Konrad Vonaumer, Conn., 2:18.47; 5. Trevor Jones, West Point, N.Y., 2:19.09, 6. Thomas McGee, Ottawa, Canada, 2:19.56; 7. Scott Kaslusky, West Hartford, 2:20.25; Bill Schumann, West Hartford, 2:20.39; Mark Rowat, West Point, 2:21.16; 10. Bob Shebest, Storrs, 2:22.04.
Top 10 women: 1. Catherine Sterling, New Haven, 2:33.18 (new course record); 2. Elizabeth Hall, Redding, 2:35.55, 3. Kelli Montgomery, Wallingford, 2:36.33; 4. Karen Newman, Old Greenwich, 2:38.11; 5. Daria Vanderveer, Manchester, 2:40.57; 6. Lindsay Simpson, Burlington, Vt., 2:43.33; 7. Marissa Ryan, Farmington, 2:45.17; 8. Pascale Butcher, Fairfield, 2:46.57, 9. Jane Fitzgerald, Somerset,N.Y., 2:47.02; 10. Kim Cokeley, West Point, N.Y., 2:48.00